Despite the worst possible start to the game, Liverpool rallied to come back and beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 in the Premier League clash at Anfield — but possibly at a cost.
Jürgen Klopp’s men came away with the three points, but Mohamed Salah limped off with five minutes to go with what looked like an ankle complaint. It remains to be seen the extent of that injury.
This was after he had already found the back of the net, scoring a penalty won by Sadio Mané following Jordan Henderson’s equaliser. All this came after Harry Kane’s opening goal with less than a minute on the clock.
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It was a nightmare start for the Reds as, straight from the off, Son Heung-min charged down the left and had a go at goal. Dejan Lovren deflected the effort onto the post, but Kane was the first to react, stooping low to nod the rebound beyond the helpless dive of Alisson Becker.
The hosts dominated much of the play in the opening 20 minutes but, for all their industry, the quality of delivery into the box was poor and too often promising positions led to nothing because of poor service from wider areas.
It finally opened up for Salah from 20 yards, but Paulo Gazzaniga sprung to his left to palm his effort away. The ‘keeper got back up swiftly to deny Roberto Firmino from the rebound, but Liverpool were very much in the ascendancy at this point.
The Argentine would be the visitors’ hero once again soon after, as he denied Virgil van Dijk’s header from 10 yards after the first good delivery of the afternoon from Trent Alexander-Arnold. The Englishman had a pop himself from 30 yards, but his rasping drive was beaten away once again by a goalkeeper in inspired form.
For all their possession and pressure, the first period came to a close with Spurs ahead. Half-time came very much at the wrong time for the Reds who were utterly dominant after the early goal.
The good news was that Liverpool picked up where they left off after the restart. Roberto Firmino tested Gazzaniga once more with a header, before Son rattled the woodwork again at the other end to refocus minds and remind the home side that the visitors could still threaten.
But it was the captain — who had been poor in the first half — who restored parity on 52 minutes. Firmino had gone down after a push in the back to huge appeal for a penalty, but the one man who had not stopped to claim a foul was the skipper, who produced a left-footed volley which flew into the bottom corner. Nothing Gazzaniga could do about that one.
The crowd were jubilant, not that they needed the boost. From the get-go the Anfield faithful were loud — cheering every pass, tackle, shot and decision while making sure to heap that little bit more pressure on the opposition every time they had the ball with an assortment of boos and jeers.
As time ticked on there was, perhaps, a feeling that another golden opportunity might never come, but when Sadio Mané chased a long ball to get there ahead of Serge Aurier, the Ivorian unwisely swung a leg in the box. The Senegalese forward fell, and referee Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot.
In James Milner’s absence it was Salah who stepped up. He made no mistake from 12 yards at the Kop End, drilling the ball low and hard beyond the statuesque Gazzaniga to give the Reds the lead for the first time in the game.
Only after that did Spurs push on and really test Liverpool’s defensive resolve with a number of strong attack, but Klopp’s Reds held firm and came away with a hard-fought but well-deserved three points.